Approximately 40 Clayton State University students marched from the school’s Morrow campus, to the National Archives at Atlanta, which is their polling place. The march was intended to get more students to vote in the election.
JONESBORO Clayton County voters overwhelmingly backed President Barack Obama’s bid for another four years in the White House Tuesday.
With 38 of the county’s 60 precincts counted, as of 11:30 p.m., 85 percent of Clayton County voters backed the president’s re-election bid. The support seen locally for the president stood in stark contrast to the closeness of the race between Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney seen in the rest of the country.
Clayton County Democratic Party Chairman Albert Barker said he was pleased with the support Obama got from the county. He said the president needed counties like Clayton.
“Clayton County did its part,” said Barker.
While Clayton County voters were solidly behind Obama, the presidential race was a barn burner across the rest of the country with the president and Romney staying neck-and-neck throughout the night. Just before midnight, however, the Associated Press reported Obama had won.
Locally, Obama saw his support in Clayton County increase over what was already a high number from 2008. The president won 83 percent of the county vote four years ago.
Barker said he believes the increase in support for the president comes from the Democratic Party’s efforts to register new voters over the last four years. He said efforts in Forest Park and Riverdale have been especially fruitful. Also, efforts by candidates in local races to get supporters to the polls also helped increase Obama’s support, he said.
Contested county races included five school board races and a sheriff’s race that pitted former Sheriff Victor Hill against write-in challenger Garland Watkins, who is chief deputy under Sheriff Kem Kimbrough.
“It revved people up for this election,” said Barker. “They did an outstanding job getting their supporters to come out and vote, so I think it was a collective effort by everyone involved.”
With 78,501 votes counted, as of 11:30 p.m., the county looked to have a voter turnout of about 51 percent of the 153,888 voters registered in the county as of Oct. 1. Four years ago, the county had a 67-percent turnout.
While many candidates asked their supporters to vote before election arrived, Clayton State University students took an activists approach to getting their classmates to participate in the election. About 40 students participated in a pro-voting march from the campus in Morrow to the National Archives at Atlanta Tuesday afternoon.
The archives is the polling location for students who use their campus address to register to vote.
Several first-time voters, including freshmen Javaris Stringer and Kiara Dees, were among the students who participated in the march.
“I really wanted to be a part of this election because I serve in the U.S. military and whoever wins the office this year will decide deployments and whether more troops are going to come home,” said Dees, 19, an Army Reservist who voted for Obama.
Stringer, who turned 18 in July, said he felt he needed to vote because the election fell in the same year he became eligible to vote. He said he was supporting Obama partly because he is a Democrat and also because “I like most of the stuff he’s doing.”
Stringer said the closeness of the election nationally increased his desire to vote.
“If it’s going to be close, then I would like to be part of the group that barely makes somebody win,” Stringer said.